The ongoing controversy over governmental control of the content of artists' work raises questions about the freedom professionals have to express their concern on important and politically sensitive issues: the environment, the state of the economy, civil rights, and the correctness of foreign policy. When agents of political and economic authority (such as Whittle and LACMA) become arbiters of taste, they have the power to not only physically shape the environment in their image, but to manipulate thought as well. A submissive cadre of artists whatever their stylistic language -- serves to legitimize such power.
Modernism, in questioning and challenging the past, can serve as a vital critic of the present. It can be a language of optimism and change, a sign of life rather than decadence. The re-creation of Degenerate Art comes at a time when modernism, however, is subject to assaults by politicians, designers and entrepreneurs, and historicism vigorously promoted. In suggesting Seaside, Florida as the New American Suburb, architect Andres Duany claims German town planning during the Third Reich as one of his sources of inspiration. Seaside, with its authoritarian building code and derivative style, is, in the end, a scheme for the affluent by an enterprising private developer, hardly a paradigm for socially responsive urban development. Another of Duany's patrons, HRH The Prince of Wales, chooses to ignore social issues by considering contemporary design predominantly in 'archaicist' terms, favoring historicism over history -- style over process. The wide acceptance of this kind of reductionist thinking suggests that an alliance of patron/mentors, their chosen developers and architects, and the establishment media can conspire to set the standards for architectural and social critique, thus effectively isolating and neutralizing those who might provide an alternative view.